of the Lord
a sermon based on Isaiah 5:1-7
Guest Preacher, Rev. Roy Fowler Afton and Stone Dam UMC
A New York City businessman moved to the country
and bought a piece of land. He went to the local feed and livestock store and talked to
the proprietor about how he was going to take up chicken farming. He then asked to buy 100
chicks. "Thats a lot of chicks," commented the proprietor. "I mean
business," the man replied. A week later the new chicken farmer was back again.
"I need another 100 chicks," he said. "Boy, you are serious about this
chicken farming," the man told him. "Yeah," the man replied. "If I can
iron out a few problems." "Problems?" asked the proprietor.
"Yeah," replied the man, "I think I planted that last batch too close
Before we start to farm. We need to be aware of the principles that are required and
then we have to practice these principles to be successful. We are going to be talking
about working in a vineyard. Farming is farming whether it is in a vineyard or raising
green beans, corn or cabbage in the family garden. Or raising flowers on the porch. It is
the amount of work and care given that allows the crops to grow into full maturity and
produce food and beauty.
Some folks try to live life without effort, without understanding what our physical and
spiritual life is supposed to be. Sometimes government, society and even some churches
help in our lackadaisical attitudes. But ultimately we are the one that will face our
Maker and account for the way we live our lives.
During the time that our Scripture was written the Israelites had a hard time staying away
from the gods and idols of their neighbors. They were pulled to idolatry like steel balls
to a magnet. They have different names today, of course, but we still are tempted by other
gods-wealth, beauty, relationships, power, things.
Its clear that Isaiah, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, isnt talking
specifically about a vineyard. He is talking about people and society and the way they
chose to live. The obvious answer to why God abandoned them is they didnt love him.
They didnt take God seriously. They didnt respect him.
In their own vineyard they didnt expend the effort to give the vines the enriched
earth required to grow and they didnt keep the weeds out of the vineyard. They
didnt keep the vineyard pure. Wild vines will mix with the grapes of the vineyard so
they will not be as rich and full bodied as the pure vine. In Isaiahs story they
were content with letting the vines produce with little effort from them.
This relates to their religious life too. They were content with their life; they had
what they needed. They were content with their religious rites and rituals with no actual
fear or respect for the true God, the Lord Almighty. They were content to mix and match
their religions and their secular lives so they would be comfortable in both worlds. They
were so content that they made God into what they were instead of allowing God to make
them into what he is.
Comfort and luxury seem to be our chief requirement of life even today. Our society is
very slack in effort. It is easier to go with the flow of life. It is easier to go along
with our friends and sometimes even our enemies than to go against the flow and do what
God requires. But what most dont understand is the effort we make to please our God
is what makes our life worth while. Society actually respects those that chose to be
followers of the one true God and live his teachings in their life. It is when we ask them
to do what God requires that upsets them. But we are told by God to teach everyone what he
requires from them and society.
What we really need is enthusiasm and respect for the God we encounter in the Bible. We
need to sacrifice ourselves to the God that sacrificed himself for us. We need to cut off
dead and sinful parts and fertilize our roots so that God doesnt have to prune and
dig around and disrupt our life to help us grow. God gives us so much and we give so
little. God expects us to produce!
Whats so devious about sin is that it weakens the very character of a person;
deep down in the "roots," sin defaces eats away and eventually that destroys the
beauty and the blossoms of a community. When Gods word is despised, and he is cast
away, what can we expect but to wonder if God has abandoned us? Does it sound like our
society today or maybe the Church or our families and even us?
To those that have been given much, much is required. God has given us his Salvation.
And he expects much from those that receive it from him. If we arent living up to
our Salvation what are we going to do today to correct our spiritual life? Once we get our
spiritual life in line with Gods will -our total life will be secure no matter what life
throws at us. We will be a productive vineyard.
Chicken farmers dont plant chickens. Gods people dont bury their
lives in the soil of sin. Gods people walk in the light as He is in the light. The
light of Gods righteousness.
Hear the good news! God holds out a gift that can repair the vineyard of our lives and
communities. Whether Christian or simply just exploring your religious options, Gods
gift of repentance can change everything! Repentance isnt a dirty word, or one
reserved for the turn-or-burn evangelists. Its Gods gift to us-the
possibility of changing direction. It means were going down one path, and
suddenly we have the opportunity to take a different path that leads us into more and more
of the light. With a change of heart, mind, and direction-through Jesus the Christ-we can
be a productive vineyard. Amen.